The Game of Change

Why and how Change is a game we can win

I participated in the last Change Playing Meetup organized by Cocoon Pro and in the opening circle I said “I don’t just like change. I need change!“. Then, the person next to me said “I love stability!“.

That was the moment I understood I was in a special space, for learning a lot about change. What follow are my notes taken during the meetup, just rearranged and reorganized a bit. If you are dealing with change in your life and in your work, here you can find some useful insight and some practical tips arose from the beautiful conversation we had.
The polarities of Change
It is important to recognize and embrace the polarities of change.
Let’s start here.
First: in today’s fast-paced world, there is a tendency to push for adaptivity, agility, and flexibility. However, stability is equally important.
There are things happening at the edge of a given context that can even be chaotic. However, as they become known, they can be standardized and stabilized, becoming part of the center and the core of that context. There are people who are more comfortable at the edge, and others who are more comfortable at the core. Some people thrive on change and living at the edge, where chaos is dominant and uncertainty is the only certainty; while others prefer a more stable and predictable environment, taking care of standardizing, clarifying, and managing the known. The challenge is how we can nurture relationships between the two places (edge and core) that make the whole system coherent and not schizophrenic.
The other polarity, strictly connected to the first one is that on one hand, change can be exciting, offering new opportunities for growth and transformation, and on the other hand, change can be terrifying, challenging our sense of identity and security. To navigate change effectively, it is important to acknowledge that change can be scary and that it’s okay to feel both excited and anxious. It is also essential to listen to all the parties involved and understand their concerns, fears, and hopes.
The third and last polarity that arose during the conversation is about our own nature, as individuals and as human systems. As human beings, we are complex and multi-dimensional, with different aspects of ourselves and our lives that may change at different rates. Some parts of us and our lives may be more stable and consistent, reflecting our core values and beliefs, while other parts may be more fluid and constantly evolving. Understanding and accepting these different aspects of ourselves is essential for effectively navigating change and adapting to new circumstances. By embracing both the stable and the dynamic aspects of ourselves, we can find greater balance and harmony in our lives.
Therefore, it seems that effective change playing is a lot about polarities. It requires finding the right balance between adaptivity and stability, between the edge and the core, and between our changing characteristics and stable identities.
Yes, but… how?
Collective Sense-Making
It emerged that sense-making is a critical tool for navigating change, and it can be particularly powerful when done as a group.
In today’s complex and interconnected world, the idea of the individual as a self-contained unit is becoming increasingly outdated. We are all part of larger systems and communities, and our actions and decisions have an impact on those around us. As such, it is essential to recognize the importance of collective sense-making and working together to create positive change. By coming together as a community, we can leverage our collective knowledge, skills, and resources to solve problems, generate new ideas, and create a better future for all. There is no “you” without “me, and there is no individual in isolation.
By the way: join the next Ohana Meetup for a collective sense making on the evolution of the world of work.
Having the space to stop, ask questions, and make sense together can make a significant difference. By allowing for dialogue and reflection and sensing, we can embrace doubt and even honor the doubt. Uncertainty is essential for navigating change, as it allows us to explore new ideas and perspectives and challenge assumptions. By staying with the questions and remaining open to new possibilities, we can better navigate change and create positive outcomes for ourselves and our communities.
Yes, but… how?
Playing Change
Allowing sense-making needs care and mastery. During the meetup 3 things emerged as powerful ways for enabling it.

Playing change involves a playful and creative approach to navigating change. By tapping into the limbic and crocodile parts of the brain, we can engage our emotions and instincts, which can be powerful lenses for making sense of change. Through play, we can experiment with new ideas and approaches, explore different perspectives, and generate innovative solutions to the challenges we face. Playing with change can help us overcome resistance to change, build resilience, and develop new skills and mindsets. By incorporating play into our approach to change, we can make the process more engaging, enjoyable, and effective.

The process of change can be daunting and overwhelming, and it can be tempting to rush through it to get to the other side quickly. Having the right techniques and frameworks can help a lot. Using the power and possibility of engaging a whole system in the changes that confront them, in real-time, is a game changer. Methodologies like Whole Scale Change help to create a shared understanding of the change process, foster a sense of ownership and accountability, and create a culture of continuous improvement.

Facilitation is the art of creating a safe space for people to discuss, make sense, and play with the process of change. It involves designing and guiding a process that helps people to explore complex issues, generate new insights, and collaborate more effectively. Facilitators must have a deep understanding of group dynamics, effective communication techniques, and different tools and methodologies for navigating change. They must also be skilled in creating a supportive and inclusive environment that encourages participation and fosters trust. With the right facilitation, people can feel more confident in navigating change, and teams can work together more effectively toward their goals.
In conclusion, yes, change can be both exciting and frightening. But in both cases, this is a game you are requested to play. Are you game?

A special thanks to Stelio Verzera, Eric Camellini, Francesca Schioppo, Iñaki Pérez, Julia Bohlaender, Maria Stefani, Matt Hancock and Tiziano Capelli who were at the meetup and inspired this article.


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